Tolland High School girls track coach Corey Bernier may have led his team to multiple league and state championships in his eight years of coaching, but he said that he was still shocked to learn that he was named the 2012 Connecticut Girls' Track Coach of the Year.
"I'm only 31 years old," he said. "It's very humbling. I thought to win something like this you had to be coaching for 20 or 30 years."
The former Tolland High School and college track runner added that the best part about the Connecticut High School Coaches' Association title is that other track coaches nominate their peers for consideration.
"The track community is pretty close and tight-knit. That, I think, is the coolest thing about it."
That small community is rewarding Bernier for an admittedly short but accomplishment-packed career. According to Bernier, the THS girls outdoor track team has won seven consecutive league championships, two Class M state championships in 2007 and 2009 and were state runner-ups in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
Bernier said the team has only had two regular season losses since 2004.
While he credits much of the success to the dedication and talent of the team, Bernier said that his experience as a football coach may have given the team an edge in training.
"Part of it is, I approached it like I was coaching football. We raised the intensity level right from the start. Now it just carries over with the work the kids have put in before," he said.
And while Bernier and the team have already earned many honors, he said that the hard work is far from over.
"We're looking to win another league championship. You've got to set that goal high. We're going to shoot for it every year," he said, adding that his own time as part of the THS award-winning track program inspires him to keep the titles coming.
"I was lucky to be a part of some successful teams here. I want to keep the tradition going," he said.
All of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association winners will be honored with a banquet in May.